No more 8:35 PM PHL-LAX (as of 9/6)

Old Aug 24, 16, 12:42 am
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Unhappy No more 8:35 PM PHL-LAX (as of 9/6)

While working on an itinerary for my PHL-based girlfriend to join me at the beginning of October, I noticed our usual (for either of us) 8:35 PM PHL-LAX nonstop (AA 717) wasn't appearing. Looking day-by-day, it looks like the last day for this flight is the day after Labor Day; AA goes from 6x PHL-LAX to 5x daily, and only 3x on Saturdays. Now, the last two nonstops leave within 2 hours of each other, at 4:05 and 5:55 PM. Why would they scrap a flight which was almost always packed to the gills, and allowed you to get a full day in Philadelphia before flying to LAX? The plane would turn around and go as a red-eye to either CLT or back to PHL. Now, you have no way to get between 2 major AA hubs after 6 PM ET. I get they had to right-size the schedule after this summer's operational disaster, but why cut a popular and constantly full flight? What kind of idiots are running this airline? (I know, that's a juicy softball for many on this forum...) JonNYC, any idea/insight you can provide?
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Old Aug 24, 16, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by SoCalFlyer23 View Post
why cut a popular and constantly full flight?
Full and popular =! profitable or best use of a plane.

AA could sell HKG-DFW tickets for $1. The flight would be full and popular. It would still lose money.

A seasonal reduction on a Saturday night transcon route after peak summer season doesn't strike me as an "idiot running the airline". It actually sounds pretty sensible if you don't think you'll make good money running the route, or it helps with LAX's operational problems.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
A seasonal reduction on a Saturday night transcon route after peak summer season doesn't strike me as an "idiot running the airline". It actually sounds pretty sensible if you don't think you'll make good money running the route, or it helps with LAX's operational problems.
It's not a "seasonal reduction" though E_C. This is a 7-day a week flight that's been running for years, likely as US 717 before the merger. I distinctly remember sitting in F next to Chris Myers of Fox Sports on this flight last year (he and many of the Fox crew were returning from a NASCAR race in nearby Dover, DE) on a Sunday night; we had an MX delay followed by a crew time-out, stranding everyone in PHL for the night. Since the merger, AA has had a monopoly on PHL-LAX and fares have been consistently high. (My last mid-week advance-purchase RT to spend a week there was $500!)
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Old Aug 24, 16, 3:08 am
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Originally Posted by SoCalFlyer23 View Post
It's not a "seasonal reduction" though E_C. This is a 7-day a week flight that's been running for years, likely as US 717 before the merger. I distinctly remember sitting in F next to Chris Myers of Fox Sports on this flight last year (he and many of the Fox crew were returning from a NASCAR race in nearby Dover, DE) on a Sunday night; we had an MX delay followed by a crew time-out, stranding everyone in PHL for the night. Since the merger, AA has had a monopoly on PHL-LAX and fares have been consistently high. (My last mid-week advance-purchase RT to spend a week there was $500!)
AA likely isn't making any money on you at $250 each way.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 5:00 am
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Originally Posted by SoCalFlyer23 View Post
Now, you have no way to get between 2 major AA hubs after 6 PM ET.
Actually, slightly after 6PM...

PHL-LAS 615P-843P
LAS-LAX 948P-1106P
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Old Aug 24, 16, 6:13 am
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Originally Posted by SoCalFlyer23 View Post
It's not a "seasonal reduction" though E_C. This is a 7-day a week flight that's been running for years, likely as US 717 before the merger. I distinctly remember sitting in F next to Chris Myers of Fox Sports on this flight last year (he and many of the Fox crew were returning from a NASCAR race in nearby Dover, DE) on a Sunday night; we had an MX delay followed by a crew time-out, stranding everyone in PHL for the night. Since the merger, AA has had a monopoly on PHL-LAX and fares have been consistently high. (My last mid-week advance-purchase RT to spend a week there was $500!)
It looks like AA has decided to seasonally reduce it this year, even if they have not done so in the past. It's back on the schedule starting November 4, as a 5 day a week flight (does not operate westbound on Tues/Wed nights. Also does not operate on Thanksgiving night, which makes sense). It then goes away again on November 29 before returning 7 days a week on December 15 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). At this point, it remains on the schedule 7 days a week after that, but future schedules that far out are subject to change.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 8:28 am
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i'm sorry

if you think $500 for a roundtrip cross country flight is high, you're very very wrong. At best, it's a breakeven proposition for the company. That's only probably $200 one way (stripping out taxes, etc). each way. That comes nowhere close to covering the costs of operating the flight. If the airplane is full of people paying that same fare, thn there's no way that makes money, and there you go - unprofitable. There is a very real and very high cost of flying planes 3,000 miles, and the fare you are paying does not come close to covering it.

Originally Posted by SoCalFlyer23 View Post
It's not a "seasonal reduction" though E_C. This is a 7-day a week flight that's been running for years, likely as US 717 before the merger. I distinctly remember sitting in F next to Chris Myers of Fox Sports on this flight last year (he and many of the Fox crew were returning from a NASCAR race in nearby Dover, DE) on a Sunday night; we had an MX delay followed by a crew time-out, stranding everyone in PHL for the night. Since the merger, AA has had a monopoly on PHL-LAX and fares have been consistently high. (My last mid-week advance-purchase RT to spend a week there was $500!)
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Old Aug 24, 16, 8:33 am
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Originally Posted by ty97 View Post
It looks like AA has decided to seasonally reduce it this year, even if they have not done so in the past. It's back on the schedule starting November 4, as a 5 day a week flight (does not operate westbound on Tues/Wed nights. Also does not operate on Thanksgiving night, which makes sense). It then goes away again on November 29 before returning 7 days a week on December 15 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). At this point, it remains on the schedule 7 days a week after that, but future schedules that far out are subject to change.
AA has been very aggressive lately about running flights non-daily, seasonally, or bringing them on and off the schedule around holidays as appropriate. The fact that this is happening with the OP's flight signals it is probably heavily leisure and VFR (like the OP, apparently). They would not do this kind of on-again, off-again, if it were a high-yielding business route. Apparently, the flight in question turns as a red-eye, which also tends to attract low-yield passengers.

Remember too that labor costs on the US side have gone up after the merger, so if a flight had junk yields and was only marginally profitable on US pre-merger, it is probably marginally unprofitable now. Add to the at the fact that a certain number of cities where XXX-PHL-LAX was the only logical routing on US now have the option for XXX-ORD-LAX (think about places like PIT). So, it seems logical, and perhaps better for the OP than the alternative (which may be complete cancellation).
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Old Aug 24, 16, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by jasondc View Post
if you think $500 for a roundtrip cross country flight is high, you're very very wrong. At best, it's a breakeven proposition for the company. That's only probably $200 one way (stripping out taxes, etc). each way. That comes nowhere close to covering the costs of operating the flight. If the airplane is full of people paying that same fare, thn there's no way that makes money, and there you go - unprofitable. There is a very real and very high cost of flying planes 3,000 miles, and the fare you are paying does not come close to covering it.
I find that very difficult to believe considering fares are regularly in the $300 - $350 range so I'd think $500 is a fare AA would be pleased to get for such a ticker. Remember others are paying more and some (not many) will pay more, in some cases much more.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 9:24 am
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actually

While $500 round trip (or $250 one way) is better than $300 roundtrip ($150 one way), it still is not enough to be profitable. Per AA's Q1 reports (and yes, there probably is an update for Q2, but it wont differ too dramatically), their mainline CASM - cost per available seat mile - is 11.58 cents. A $250 one way fare, over 2401 miles PHX-LAX (taken from Great Circle Mapper), shows a Revenue per Available seat mile (RASM) of 10.4 cents. Given that the actual fare is probably around $220 one way (a guess - I'm not sure how much is taken out for taxes), the RASM is even lower, meaning it's even more unprofitable. Fares need to be higher, or there need to be a good portion of people on last minute higher fares or premium fares (full Y, paid F, etc) to make this a winning proposition.

Originally Posted by LINDEGR View Post
I find that very difficult to believe considering fares are regularly in the $300 - $350 range so I'd think $500 is a fare AA would be pleased to get for such a ticker. Remember others are paying more and some (not many) will pay more, in some cases much more.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by jasondc View Post
While $500 round trip (or $250 one way) is better than $300 roundtrip ($150 one way), it still is not enough to be profitable. Per AA's Q1 reports (and yes, there probably is an update for Q2, but it wont differ too dramatically), their mainline CASM - cost per available seat mile - is 11.58 cents. A $250 one way fare, over 2401 miles PHX-LAX (taken from Great Circle Mapper), shows a Revenue per Available seat mile (RASM) of 10.4 cents. Given that the actual fare is probably around $220 one way (a guess - I'm not sure how much is taken out for taxes), the RASM is even lower, meaning it's even more unprofitable. Fares need to be higher, or there need to be a good portion of people on last minute higher fares or premium fares (full Y, paid F, etc) to make this a winning proposition.
But that is average. Longer flights have lower CASM.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 10:53 am
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But that is average. Longer flights have lower CASM.
Marginally, yes. If you allow for a 20% reduction in the CASM for a longer flight, you're still under breakeven for a $400 RT coast to coast. $250 isn't even in the ballpark of anything remotely profitable.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 11:38 am
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Originally Posted by asf-07 View Post
Marginally, yes. If you allow for a 20% reduction in the CASM for a longer flight, you're still under breakeven for a $400 RT coast to coast. $250 isn't even in the ballpark of anything remotely profitable.
Of course, the "profitability" of an individual fare (by whatever metrics people choose) isn't particularly relevant here.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by SoCalFlyer23 View Post
(My last mid-week advance-purchase RT to spend a week there was $500!)
That's not a particularly high transcon fare, as has been pointed out.

Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
The fact that this is happening with the OP's flight signals it is probably heavily leisure and VFR (like the OP, apparently). They would not do this kind of on-again, off-again, if it were a high-yielding business route. Apparently, the flight in question turns as a red-eye, which also tends to attract low-yield passengers.
Exactly my point. Paring some of the marginal service (in terms of profits) away during lower-demand periods is what smart airlines do (especially when they are the only airline flying the route; it's a way to force demand into the other flights). The "idiots" would keep running it: "We're losing money on every flight but we make it up in volume!"

Last edited by eponymous_coward; Aug 24, 16 at 12:39 pm
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Old Aug 24, 16, 12:57 pm
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Historically, PHL-California demand is big in the summer and much less so in the off season, particularly the first few months of the year. I was actually surprised that late flight was running outside the midyear peak months. SFO in past years has also seen reductions in the off season.

I suppose LAX as an AA hub changes the dynamic slightly, but with 717 scheduled into LAX just before 1130pm PT (at least for today's flight), there can't be much if any connecting traffic.
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